13 Failed Predictions That Couldn’t Have Been More WrongSeptember 13, 2018
Predicting the future is hard. Really hard. And if it were actually possible, psychics would all be millionaires from winning the lottery or would have high power positions with government or corporations. At the very least, they would help police with their search and rescue efforts to find missing persons – and they’d actually find missing persons.
But even legitimate experts aren’t really good at predicting things. For example, Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame has this to say about “expert” predictions for the financial crisis of 2008:
So, most predictions we remember are ones which were fabulously, wildly unexpected and then came true. Now, the person who makes that prediction has a strong incentive to remind everyone that they made that crazy prediction which came true. If you look at all the people, the economists, who talked about the financial crisis ahead of time, those guys harp on it constantly. “I was right, I was right, I was right.” But if you’re wrong, there’s no person on the other side of the transaction who draws any real benefit from embarrassing you by bring up the bad prediction over and over. So there’s nobody who has a strong incentive, usually, to go back and say, Here’s the list of the 118 predictions that were false. … And without any sort of market mechanism or incentive for keeping the prediction makers honest, there’s lots of incentive to go out and to make these wild predictions. (Steven Levitt)
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many of history’s predictions have proven to be incorrect.